We report on a case which provides useful additional ammunition for businesses facing competition from staff leaving with customer lists.
Recruitment agencies are a frequent battleground for restrictive covenant cases. Agents have a great deal of commercial contacts which they will often have gained during a particular employment, and which the employer will not want them leaving with.
In this case the ex-employee emailed the data of approximately 100 clients and potential clients to her email address prior to leaving for a rival recruitment company. She then solicited business from them.
Regardless of the protection that should be put into employment contracts to stop post-employment competition, this individual was successfully prosecuted for unlawfully obtaining personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998.
The employee pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined £200, ordered to pay costs of £214, plus a victim surcharge of £30 at Warrington Magistrates Court.
This case highlights an important additional weapon in companies’ arsenals when dealing with similar situations. It also acts as a warning to employees leaving with client lists but who want to avoid getting a criminal record.